Before the #ourday Twitter campaign across local government came a Scottish initiative to give people an idea of what they get for their council tax. Here's what one comms officer learned.
by Jenny Scott
One of my first tasks in my new role as Communications Assistant for Falkirk Council was to work on their Twitter 24 campaign.
As a newcomer to the working world of PR and Comms this seemed like the ideal opportunity to ease me into the combined world of social media and local government.
Overall I believe the exercise was a great success. Of course there was the odd #mycouncil is useless - and worse - but in terms of engagement with the general public it seems, at least to me, to have broken the ice for many tweeters. The levels of engagement were higher than usual and hopefully that is a trend that will continue. It’s all well and good having thousands of followers but if they aren’t engaging with you either passively by reading your tweets or actively by directly contacting you what is the point in having them at all?
Of course I understand that not every council is similarly staffed so not everyone is equipped for equal levels of engagement but even a short disclaimer can inform followers of office hours and when they can expect replies.
The effort put in by almost every council involved was great to see especially for what I understand is only the second year this type of project has been run. For me though there were two councils who stood out from the crowd by getting creative with the brief and doing things a bit differently.
Edinburgh Council @Edinburgh_CC did an excellent job of piquing interest by taking their followers on a journey around the City. It was a great idea and was much more interesting than firing out a mass of facts about council services that many followers would probably regard as spamworthy rather than newsworthy.
West Dunbartonshire Councils @WDCouncil real time use of tweets was also interesting as it made for an interesting segue in topics and was obviously either well planned in advance or shows a very good level of communication between their Comms team and other areas of their council.
At present it is unrealistic to expect councils to monitor Twitter 24 hours a day but levels of engagement during working hours can definitely be enhanced with little extra effort.
What seems to be the best lesson to take away from the experience of Twitter 24 is not that normal service will now resume but normal service will now be bigger and better than ever. Or at least mildly improved between the hours of 9 and 5.
Jenny Scott is communications assistant at Falkirk Council.